Last Saturday night was one of my favorite nights of the year -- time for our annual Halloween costume party! This year marked the ninth consecutive year of festive fetes, and even though life has been crazy lately with work, house projects, and the blog, I was sooo excited to make this year memorable for our guests. After all, Halloween is my favorite holiday, hands down.

This year's menu featured a lot of tried and true favorites, but I also introduced a few new recipes to keep it interesting. Here's a breakdown:

Beverages

  • Wine
  • Beer
  • "Boo-rbon" Slushes (known as bourbon slushes any other day of the year)
  • Soda
  • Water flavored with orange slices
  • Sparkling water
Appetizers
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Hot artichoke dip
  • Chips and "guacamoldy"
  • Pita, veggie and hummus tray
  • Gorgonzola stuffed dates
  • Crab salad in phyllo cups
  • Cream cheese log smothered in fig chutney with crackers
  • Crostini with a roasted red pepper spread
  • Goat cheese and candied walnut stuffed endives
  • Barbeque meatballs

Dessert

  • Milk chocolate frosted orange cupcakes
  • Pumpkin and autumn-inspired donuts
  • Donut holes
  • Candy corn
  • Chocolate chip pumpkin bread

Typically the day before we throw a party, I like to set up both the bar and the dining room. I pre-set my glassware (gotta love inexpensive IKEA stemware) as well as my serving dishes and utensils...

...and I even label each serving dish with the corresponding menu item. This helps me think about everything someone may need (condiments, utensils, etc.) for each item, and also makes day-of prep and setup a breeze. Here's a snapshot of our table as I started to lay out food for the shindig: 

And here's the after, once all of the items were on the table. I use all white serving dishes to keep the look more unified as well as not to distract from the food itself. The one big exception? My spider dip bowl of course. There's nothing better than eating bright green "guacamoldy" from the inside of a spider. :-)

And here's a look at the dessert set up. I like to keep the desserts apart from the other food, and I use the buffet in our dining room for just this purpose.

For those interested, here's a close up of my homemade cupcakes, sitting on our bar before the party. (For a how to on making a healthier but beautiful cupcake straight from a box, see this post.) 

The rat in the background, lovingly named Roger the Rat, is watching over the desserts. If you noticed Roger's ears had been brazenly chewed off, well, you can thank Lulu for that one. She and Roger had a fight....and let's just say Lulu won. I think it gives Roger some serious street cred though.

Another fun touch I like to add is to come up with a Halloween-themed name for each food item. Here's an example:

Ambiance

In addition to a festive food lineup, we ensure that the party has a fun and spooky vibe. This includes decorating the house with Halloween decor from top to bottom, including our spooky window silhouette project, as well as lighting candles throughout the house and putting together a party playlist that includes some Halloween-inspired tunes mixed in with our favorites. 

We also encourage all our guests to dress in costume. Admittedly this just isn't some people's thing. But with a few exceptions, all our guests came dressed in costume, and this year there were a ton of great ideas that blew us away. I'm so inspired by our friends' creativity and sense of humor. Here's one of my favorite couple's costumes of the night:

Judging from how quickly the food disappeared, I'd say the menu was a crowd pleaser. The night was a complete blast, and I'm already looking forward to next year!

And if two overflowing recycling bins are the sign of a good party, well then mission accomplished!

I know we were a little early in celebrating this year. Is anyone else throwing a Halloween party in the next few weeks? If so, will it be a costume party? Please share any ideas or projects you have in the works to celebrate the season. I'd love to hear all about it!

Stay tuned later this week and next for a full run down on the Old Town Home crew's final costume picks, as well as a photo tour of our Halloween decor, both inside and out. Until then, Happy Haunting!

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